2019 Seminars: South Africa and China at the UN Security Council

Security Council Meeting: The situation in Somalia Report of the Secretary-General on Somalia (S/2010/447). Source: Foreign Affairs and Policy Institute of South Africa.

South Africa and China at the UN Security Council

Date:  17 May 2019

Time: 10:00 to 15:00

Venue: UJ APK 6th Floor Auditorium

RSVP: Smangele Zwane at smangelez@uj.ac.za

Seminar description:

South Africa and China have many sites of interaction; at the bilateral level they are trading partners, who have seen ever-growing economic ties in the 21st century (with China being South Africa’s number-one trading partner in the world as of 2009, and South Africa being China’s number-one trading partner on the continent of Africa), at the multilateral level they also interact quite frequently, with the leaders and representatives of both countries frequently finding themselves in similar rooms and discussion tables in such forums as FOCAC, BRICS, and the G20 among others. One of the most powerful body in which these two players come into contact with one another, however, is one in which their cooperation is never fully predictable, this is the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). This is the case for two reasons; while China is a permanent member, South Africa’s assumption of the seat is under no guarantee. Secondly, the body has internal and external pressures along with a myriad other powerful (and somewhat competing) states, as well as a vast mandate that make cooperation seem less like a straightforward matter, and more of a contingent outcome – dependent, as it were, on the circumstances and on the nature of interests.

As South Africa returns to the UNSC, much speculation has lent itself as to what can be expected, both in terms of what South Africa and China will champion individually, as well as whether they will support each other in these initiatives. One caveat surmises: both South Africa and China have undergone considerable transformations since their previous terms. Will some patterns persist? What role will the power dynamics between these two declared Strategic Partners play in the period in question? What are the critical enablers of cooperation? How will the African agenda be designated and, if at all, co-pursued by these players?

The Centre for Africa-China Studies (CACS) will convene a seminar with just these questions in consideration, with some of the country’s leading and upcoming scholars pondering these questions and posing cogent answers to them.

Some suggested supplemental literature:

South Africa at the UN Security Council in 2019/20: What’s Different This Time? FAPISA by Itumeleng Makgetla, 18 Sep. 2018

Sino-South African Relations at Twenty: Key Lessons [PDF download] UJCI Africa-China Occasional Paper Series by David Monyae and Gibson Banda, January 2018.

China’s Soft-Power Status (via UN Peacekeeping) and its Implications for the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) [PDF download] by Martin R. Rupiya, Africa-China Occasional Paper Series, 2017.

The reluctant Hegemon – SA’s third United Nations Security Council Seat, by Oscar van Heerden, Daily Maverick, 13 June 2018.

South Africa on the UN Security Council: Priorities and challenges by Malte Brosig, Africa Portal, 20 June 2018.

US, China at odds over UN push to fund African peacekeeping, News24, 21 November 2018.

Click here to browse all our 2019 seminars.